There's hope for hoarders in Animal Planet's 'Confessions'
"Confessions: Animal Hoarding"
The series, which begins its third season Wednesday, Aug. 24, is Animal Planet's entry in the reality subgenre that brought us A&E Network's "Hoarders" and TLC's "Hoarding: Buried Alive." And since these are living creatures being hoarded, it's the most painful to watch. If the sad faces and sickly bodies of neglected animals don't get to you, the sight of all that waste will.
That said, the season premiere is relatively low on the "ick" scale. Its two featured hoarders are Tom, who has 31 snakes, most of them venomous, and Nancy, who started out with a pair of lovebirds eight years ago and wound up with 250 of them.
Tom, 37, delivers newspapers for a living and has a mobile home on his mother's property, but he continues to sleep on Mom's living-room floor because the trailer is filled with his snakes. While he takes good care of the reptiles, it would only take one bite to kill him -- a fear his brother Andy repeatedly expresses to both Tom and their mother, Becky.
Half of the home that Nancy, a retired trial attorney, shares with her husband, Ed, is given over to the birds. She, too, is a conscientious caretaker, but with so many birds flying freely, cleaning up after them is a full-time job. She won't entertain the thought of giving up a single one, even at the risk of losing her marriage.
Fortunately, these two are what the addiction recovery movement calls "high bottoms"; their issues are fairly close to the surface and easily found and addressed. Nancy's epiphany is particularly moving.
That's the good news. The bad news is that not all animal hoarding cases are resolved this easily. Often there are hazmat suits, dead animals and hysterics.
Difficult though it may be to watch, however, "Confessions: Animal Hoarding" is a ray of hope. Most animal hoarding cases aren't dealt with until they become criminal matters. This series shows by example that early intervention can make all the difference.